Ian Wishart on the BFD

Six days ago, after Greens co-leader James Shaw told Newshub’s Jenna Lynch he had “always been very open” about his academic record, I asked Shaw to provide a “privacy waiver” so that his alleged MSc degree with Bath University in the UK could be fact-checked.

I received no fewer than six ‘e-mail received’ confirmations. His ministerial press secretary confirmed she had passed it on. All James Shaw had to do was reply with confirmation that Bath University could release his study application documents.

That approval never came. Instead, the Green Party, its MPs and Shaw himself have been bombarded on social media with questions about Shaw’s academic record… days of absolute ridicule and pain that are clearly distracting from the Greens’ attempts to get election campaign traction on X and other platforms.

Shaw could fix this in an instant but has apparently made the choice, in my view, that keeping his academic data hidden and enduring the public torture of the Greens for the next weeks of a crucial election campaign, is a lesser evil than the consequences of authorising Bath University to release his academic records.

We don’t know what’s in those records, but we do know Shaw was a Vic University dropout without a bachelor’s degree, let alone the 2:1 Honours degree that Bath says was necessary to enter the Master of Science degree course.

That means that Shaw presumably had to rely on a special application to plead an “exceptional circumstances” entry to the MSc.

Given that Shaw has already been caught making a false claim on his LinkedIn page about having a BA from Vic Uni (an offence under s20 of the Summary Offences Act 1981), and that Shaw filed false pecuniary interests declarations with the NZ Parliament, there is sufficient evidence already in play to justify a full investigation into whether the Greens co-leader’s sole remaining academic degree, the MSc from Bath, was in fact legitimately applied for.

Again, I am not pre-judging the outcome because we don’t know until the documents are released and fact-checked, but in my opinion, the optics of the situation have become highly concerning. Let me explain why I think that.

First, what rational person, if the documents could easily show the degree is legitimate, wouldn’t release them on Day one, rather than see his party’s social media election outreach get destroyed for a week (three weeks, if you track back to the start of this scandal)?

Rightly or wrongly, the ongoing radio silence from Shaw fuels a growing public suspicion that where there’s smoke there’s fire, yet Shaw is effectively letting the Green Party burn rather than clear up the mystery.

That doesn’t make any sense. Instead, it leads me to the opinion that maybe whatever is hiding in those documents that James Shaw doesn’t want the public to read is so devastating that it would, in fact, torpedo the Greens’ election campaign completely.

That’s the only rational explanation I can think of, that the damage from the next four weeks of ignoring questions is actually a better election hope for the Greens than making full disclosure to the voters now and living with the fallout.

Can anyone think of a more plausible reason why James Shaw hasn’t defused this already?

I presume that in his “exceptional circumstances” application Shaw must have addressed his grades at Victoria and why he dropped out. I presume he also must have disclosed relevant work experience that would make him an “exceptional” candidate for studying an MSc, despite flunking a three-year BA at Vic during four years of study.

I also presume his still hidden application would disclose whether he funded the NZ$61,000 (in today’s money) tuition fee, or whether someone paid it for him.

It is also highly significant that, barring brief mentions by Mike Hosking and Heather du Plessis-Allan at Newstalk ZB, and Jenna Lynch at Newshub, there has been no coverage of this story by the legacy media.

If my questions were unreasonable, if my facts were wrong, the media would have fact-checked and ‘explainered’ me up the wazoo. But it hasn’t happened. Instead, the legacy media are complicit in their silence [as they usally are with a Leftist —Eds].

That’s what taking four years of government propaganda money does to your independence and credibility. This is the biggest story in the 2023 election campaign to date, in my view. It goes to the integrity of the government’s junior coalition partner. It involves the leader of the third-ranked political party.

And the only place you can read about it is here, in independent and social media, because the mainstream media don’t want you to know.

So share this everywhere. Engage the power of social media by continually demanding answers from the Greens and legacy media channels.

The longer James Shaw leaves these questions burning when he could easily answer them, the more likely that even Green voters will become dismayed at the collateral damage. The Greens trade on integrity, but what if they are just like all the rest?

James Shaw, if you have nothing to hide, approve the privacy waiver. The Greens won’t get clear air until this issue is resolved.